Boost the ROI of Tech Product Demos with ‘Wow’ Factor

will-it-blend-demo-videoROI marketing for vendors is more than just what we think of as traditional marketing. Often, it’s the impressiveness of the product demo that sells the product. I’ve been thinking about this lately, because a number of vendors have been giving me presentations as part of a vendor search we are doing for a new client.

Each time a vendor comes in to hock their wares, the format is the same:

The sales guy talks about high-level (mostly unimportant) things about their company and their competitors. They are full of facts, but rarely demonstrate understanding. Then the sales tech guy does a demo of the software–it’s usually a canned demo they have shown a million times before. Because the tech guy wasn’t informed about the client’s actual needs, the demo isn’t particularly targeted to those needs.

I’ve sat through hundreds of these presentations over the last 15 years in this industry. In fact, I used to be the tech lead who gave them, way back in the day.

Every time I sit through these, I remember the one demo that actually impressed me in all that time. It was back in my Barnes& days. I was looking for personalization technologies to implement the “people who bought this product also bought…” feature on the site. My team looked at a lot of companies and they all followed the same general outline above.

Then one company walked in and didn’t have a canned presentation at all. Instead, they went to our presentation computer, opened Internet Explorer and changed the proxy settings in the program. Then they told me to go to our site.

I typed “” into the address bar and there was our site, as usual… until I went to a product page. There, under the description was a “If you like this book, you’ll also like…” box that listed five other books the user might like. You could go to any product page (in the books section of the site) and a custom list of suggestions showed up.

This company used their technology on a list of books from the Library of Congress and did some basic matching based on the book’s metadata (author, genre, subject matter, etc.). They created a program on their webserver that would add the personalization box live to our pages. By changing the proxy server on our browser, our pages were being processed through their servers before being displayed to us, which is what allowed the magic to happen.

Their demonstration had a “wow” factor; the demo results they were showing were good and would only get better once we tweaked the algorithms to use our data. The difference was in how they showed us very convincingly exactly what their technology could do. Of course, they were the company we went with, and the results were amazing.

Certainly, it took them more time to construct this demo than a regular vendor with a canned presentation. Looking at the ROI of this demo, though, it paid them back many times over, because they won a lucrative contract they otherwise might not have.

Contrast this with a canned demo and there is no comparison. I even remember one demo given by a tech guy who was in Europe and his connection kept breaking, crashing the demo. (As I side note, that vendor was shocked we didn’t choose them.)

Are you a technology vendor? If you have wishlist clients you really want to impress, think outside your canned demos and figure out what will really produce a wow factor for those prospects. Understand their business needs and build a demo that not only showcases your company’s abilities, but showcases your ability to listen and understand what your prospective client’s needs are.

Until next time…


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